King's Cross Railway Lands Group (KXRLG): press release
King's Cross development: campaigners win right to High Court hearing
Members of King's Cross Think Again campaign were delighted to hear that their application for judicial review had been recognised for its seriousness and urgency by the High Court.
In an order made last Friday, Mr Justice Collins gave directions for the hearing of the challenge to LB Camden's decision to grant planning consent last November to the controversial King's Cross development.
Because of the urgency, with developers Argent hoping to start demolishing heritage buildings within weeks, he ordered a 'rolled up' hearing of both the campaigners' case for permission to have a judicial review and the actual judicial review hearing itself. The hearing is likely to be in April. Leigh Day & Co, solicitors for the King's Cross Railway Lands Group which is leading the campaign, argue that councillors were wrongly advised at the November meeting about their right to reconsider the provisional consent given by their predecessors in March 2006. A second key issue is the obligation planning officers have to return an application to councillors if there has been a material change in planning circumstances.
Mr Justice Collins stated in his order he considered 'both grounds are likely to be considered arguable'. As well as clearing the way for a judicial review, Mr Justice Collins ordered that buildings of historical interest which are threatened by the current plans should not be demolished in the meantime. 'We are glad the Court has taken such a commonsense approach, recognising at this early stage that the legal challenge has real substance and directing that the case be heard as soon as possible,' said Jamie Beagent of Leigh Day. 'Crucially, the Court has ordered the developer not to demolish important historic buildings before the legal challenge is heard--something it has been threatening to do.'
Leigh Day & Co have also applied for a protective costs order to limit the amount the King's Cross Railway Lands Group would have to pay if they lose. Without such an order, and the conditional fee arrangement agreed by the group's own legal team, judicial review would be financially impossible. Mr Justice Collins wrote that he was 'sympathetic' to this application but granted time for the defendants, Camden council, to make representations. This decision on costs should be made by 6 March.
'We are very heartened that the High Court has decided our case should be heard so quickly and prevented the destruction of our heritage buildings in the meanwhile,' said Michael Edwards, co-chair of the King's Cross Railway Lands Group. 'It's an important first step towards getting the scheme reconsidered. We all want to see King's Cross redeveloped—the important thing is to get it right.'
27 02 07
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